SHERRY ASKE, TELEGRAPH-JOURNAL
29 Jun 2012 08:18AM
NORTON – The Portage Atlantic drug rehabilitation centre near Norton hopes a relay will help raise money for its recovery trail, which will provide residents with space for reflection, said interim director Luc Desjardins.
The centre, located at Cassidy Lake, runs a drug treatment program for youth ages 14 to 21.
“A lot of our residents arrive physically and emotionally damaged,” Desjardins said, “so having a trail and all kinds of physical activities will help them eventually feel better by being active throughout the day.”
This is the third and final year the centre will hold the Strides for Success relay to raise money for the trail. The event is a partnership between information technology company T4G and Saint John’s Celebration of Greenspace event, said organizer David Baxter.
“It’s about adding a very specific aspect to the Portage program, which is to be able to enjoy the benefits of outdoor activities,” Baxter said.
Over the last two years, the relay has helped Portage raise $42,000 for the recovery trail, but another $18,000 is needed to complete the project. Construction on the trail has already begun, Desjardins said. It includes extending an existing 3.8 kilometres of trail, building a boardwalk down to a boathouse at Cassidy Lake and the construction of a cabin in the woods that can be used for group sessions.
“We can send a small group out there to talk with a counsellor without any type of disturbance,” Desjardins said, “It’s a calm atmosphere, with no stress, which our residents need.”
Over the last two years, the relay has helped Portage raise $42,000 for the recovery trail, but another $18,000 is needed to complete the project.
Residents will also use the trail for mountain biking and snowshoeing, Desjardins said. “For most of our residents it’s an experience they’ve never had, or one they’ve never had sober,” he said.
John Branswell, who arrived at Portage in February, said residents jump at the chance to experience any privileges while in treatment. Residents already use the lake for swimming and canoeing, but will look forward to using the trails as well, he said.
The 21-year-old came to Portage after struggling with drug addiction in university. Branswell said he was “mad at the world” and experiencing freedom for the first time. When casual drug use turned to addiction, he decided to ask for help.
“It was the best decision I ever made,” Branswell said.
While he arrived anxious and judgemental, Branswell said Portage is teaching him confidence and responsibility. When he completes the program in two months he hopes to go back to school to study psychology, and his parents are more proud now than ever. He said the centre’s setting and facilities like the trail make recovery easier.
“It’s great to be secluded from society,” he said. “There’s no distractions here. The reclusiveness of Cassidy Lake gives you time to focus on yourself.”
The Strides for Success relay takes place at the Lily Lake Pavilion in Rockwood Park on July 15 beginning at 8 a.m. Six teams have registered for the relay so far, but Baxter said he would like to see around 20 sign up in time for the event. The cost to register is $180 for a team of six.